Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hummingbirds and Horseflies

Outside my office window hangs a hummingbird feeder. I have had it several years now and it is a source of much pleasure. I had long know there were humming birds about, one would see them every now and then, flashing through the trees like red flames. Now they often perch in the trees outside my office window or buzz and whir along the edge of the porch. Some are very possessive of the “sugar pot” and will dive at peoples heads or jostle with each other . Most ungrateful of them to attack me, considering I have provided the feast. They are instantly forgiven and much loved.

This year, the forest was still full of snow when I hung out the feeder. Not very hopefully so my pleasure was doubly great when on the second day after I hung it, the first little friend appeared.

The humming birds we have at Loll are rufous hummingbirds. The bodies of the males are bright polished copper and they have ruby red throats. The females are copper green with white breasts, like Helen of Troy I suppose. In my little book, The Secret Lives of Hummingbirds; it says, “Rufous hummingbirds make an even more impressive journey. From their winter homes in Mexico they travel in early spring to California, where they follow hummingbird flowers northward as they come into bloom in the lowlands and foothills. Some eventually breed as far north as Alaska. In summer and fall they return by different routes, flying between mountain meadow refueling stops in the Coast Ranges,Sierra Nevada,and the Rocky Mountains. For some rufous hummingbirds it is a round trip of 2,200 miles – a remarkable journey for any bird,especially for one only three and one half inches long!”

What a wonder and a joy!

Soon there will be other buzzing creatures about. Big nasty horseflies which buzz and whir and pile up in dying heaps along the window sills. Of course I hate them – their noise and bother are not to be tolerated. When ever possible I kill them.

What is it that makes humming birds so welcome and horseflies so hated?

Visitors are like either humming birds or horseflies. Some are so loved that we set out baits to tempt their presence, and sit day after day waiting, hoping, for their arrival. Other visitors are like horseflies, not to be tolerated but to be smashed.

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